Horse racing is a sport that continues to thrive around the world, particularly flat races where more lucrative races are being added to the international calendar each year.
Here is a look at some of the most prestigious flat races/meetings and what makes them so special.
The Saudi Cup is one of the newest races in the sport. It is the richest contest in the world, with $10 million in prize money going to the winning connections. With such a huge purse on offer, it is no surprise it attracts the best dirt horses in the world.
This race takes place over 1,800 metres. It suits middle distance horses, but those who shine over one mile are also often found with an entry. Last year’s winner Mishriff is the 11/4 favourite for anyone looking to bet on horse racing, with the race being held at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh. The next renewal takes place in February.
The five-day Royal Ascot meeting in the UK in June is one of the highlights of the flat season in Europe. Not only are there lots of valuable races across the respective divisions on turf, but this meeting is also supported by the British monarch. They mark the start of the day’s racing with a Royal Procession across the course and this dates back to King George IV back in 1825.
Although the majority of the runners at this meeting are based in the UK and Ireland, more international horses have travelled across to Ascot in recent years, most notably from the USA and Australia.
Known as the ‘race that stops the nation’ in Australia, the Melbourne Cup is a big deal Down Under. This race takes place on the first Tuesday in November at Flemington Racecourse in Victoria. It dates all the way back to 1861.
Unlike many prestigious races on the international calendar, the Melbourne Cup is a handicap contest, which makes it such a competitive race each year. It tends to attract a big field of runners and it takes place over 3,200 metres, so it is a real stamina test.
In 2015, history was made in the Australian race as Michelle Payne became the first woman jockey to come out on top when she rode Prince of Penzance to victory.
Breeders’ Cup Championship
In North America, the Breeders’ Cup Championship is considered to be the world championship in horse racing. The annual meeting takes place in November and the venue changes from year to year.
Del Mar was the latest to host the Breeders’ Cup Championship in 2021. It took place across two days and the feature race (the Breeders’ Cup Classic) was won by Knicks Go. In what helps attract some of the best European horses, there are races on turf and dirt at the meeting. The European horses tend to do better in the turf races, while the US-trained runners dominated those on dirt.
Look out for the above four races/meetings across the year as they always make for great spectacles.